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Brunswick County Schools to offer 7-day quarantine option beginning Monday

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 1:45 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Beginning Monday, Brunswick County Schools will modify its quarantine protocols to include a seven-day option that can shorten the amount of time an individual who isn’t symptomatic and tests negative for COVID-19 is required to be in quarantine.

The modified quarantine option is in collaboration with Brunswick County Health Services and is approved by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The seven-day option is as follows:

  • Asymptomatic individuals can return to school seven (7) days from last date of exposure with a negative test obtained no earlier than day 5 from last day of exposure (may return on the 8th day). Test must be either a PCR/antigen test from a provider or laboratory.
  • Home tests can not be used to return from quarantine earlier.
  • Beginning on the 8th day at school, the individual must wear a mask until the full 14-day period is complete, including sports activities. If an individual is unable to wear a mask due to a medical exception, then they must continue to do the full 14 days of quarantine.

The district’s updated contact tracing protocols are below:

KEY TERMS:

Case: A person with COVID-19 infection confirmed through testing, provider diagnosis, or a clinically compatible illness in the absence of testing. Includes individuals with a positive PCR, antigen, or home test.

Isolation: Used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).

Isolation period: 10 days since symptoms first appeared (or test date if remains asymptomatic) AND

  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation

Close Contact: Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before symptoms began (or, for asymptomatic individuals, 2 days prior to test specimen collection date) until the time the individual is isolated. Quarantine is required for these individuals except in the following situations:

  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine after a close contact. Individual should get tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask around others until receiving a negative test result. Vaccinated contacts will need to mask for the full 14 days around others.
  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered and do not have symptoms do NOT have to quarantine.
  • Students who are not fully vaccinated after a close contact in a classroom or other school setting if masks were being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the potentially exposed person do NOT need to quarantine. This applies to exposures in classrooms, other in school settings, and school transportation but does not apply to exposures during non-academic extracurricular activities, including athletic activities. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.

Quarantine: Used to separate exposed close contacts from other individuals to prevent further transmission.

Quarantine Period: CDC recommends individuals quarantine for 14 days from their last date of exposure to a positive case. However, there are options to reduce the quarantine period for asymptomatic individuals:

  • 10 days from last date of exposure (may return on the 11th day)
  • 7 days from last date of exposure with a negative test obtained no earlier than day 5 from last day of exposure (may return on the 8th day) Test must be either a PCR/antigen test from a provider or laboratory. Home test can not be used to return from quarantine earlier.
  • In order for the following two options to be utilized, the individual must wear a mask until the full 14-day period is complete, including sports activities. If an individual is unable to wear a mask due to a medical exception, then they must continue to do the full 14 days of quarantine.

Cluster: Five or more positive COVID-19 cases in a setting within 14 days of one another, that have an epidemiological linkage between them (e.g., presumed COVID-19 transmission within a school classroom, extracurricular activity, or bus).

Case Investigation: The process of contacting the COVID-19 confirmed case to document symptoms and underlying health conditions, confirm notification of the positive test result, provide isolation guidance, and identify all close contacts. Case investigations are conducted by the local health department and/or their designee.

Case Interview: A conversation with a case, or their parent/guardian, to confirm the positive test result, confirm isolation instructions and answer questions, and inquire in detail about school close contacts. Case interviews can be conducted by the school nurse.

Contact Tracing: Reaching out to people with possible exposure to COVID-19 to inform them of their exposure and provide information on how to quarantine, when to get tested, and how to access available support services. Can be supported or facilitated by the K-12 school in collaboration with the local health department.

Secondary Data: Information routinely maintained in schools related to student schedules, class rosters, seating charts, extracurricular activities (e.g., sports), recess, lunchroom, transportation (bus and carpool), and rotating staff (e.g. speech-language service providers).

Home Test: Self-tests that are performed by a person at home. These are routinely obtained from a retail site such as Walmart, CVS, or Walgreens, have no official documentation, and are not reported to the local health departments. If a symptomatic individual uses this test and obtains a positive result, that individual should be isolated according to the isolation period above. Contact tracing should also be done on any individuals that meet the close contact criteria above. These individuals can also be included in cluster data counts. A negative home test should not be used to allow a symptomatic individual to return to school. All symptomatic individuals should be tested using a 1) PCR/molecular test or 2) antigen test (if the person has a low likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection e.g., the person has no known or suspected exposure to a person with COVID-19 within the last 14 days or is fully vaccinated or has had a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the last 3 months) from a provider or laboratory. Home tests can also not be used to allow individuals to return to school using the CDC’s shortened 7-day quarantine guidelines.

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